“There is no better time for this book.”
After reading Living Pathways, my first response was “This book should be placed in the hands of every head of state around the world.” Clearly, deeply and beautifully, M. Nadarajah brings us face-to-face with of the most pressing global issue of our time: the urgent need to take responsibility for the precious resource belonging to all of us, our Mother Earth.
I love how Nat takes us on his path, as he talks with villagers, academics, elders, and politicians. His journey brought me to realize, as he did so poignantly, that I can no longer think of “sustainable development” as if it were a nice project for someone else to take up in the future, but that I, like every other human being, embody Spirit and Nature, and the many questions the book raises are ones that I need to answer. Responsibility, as the “ability to respond,” is something which I need to own.
Nat is a scholar, philosopher, historian and artist. He holds the mirror up to Nature and Sprit through his remarkable collection of photographs. I looked for captions but found none, only to realize that Nat is saying, “Don’t look for, just look.” Beauty surrounds us, and we are its stewards. The richness of this earth—its people and its resources—are not to be captioned but to be lived.
There is no better time for this book. It should be required reading the world over, challenging each and every one of us to remember that we have only one home, our planet Earth. And that we ask every day, individually and collectively: what are we doing to sustain the great gifts of Nature and Spirit that will only be available in the future if we take responsibility for them now.
Ben Bernstein, Ph.D
Clinical Psychologist, Educator and Author (USA)
“Living Pathways has contributed to the present reservoir of knowledge in a simple, lucid way.”
Scholars and researchers have documented how traditional societies have managed their natural resources through their cultural practices. Many have now advocated the application of traditional wisdom in the area of natural resources management, conserving bio-diversity and thereby address the issue of sustainable development. “Living Pathways”, has contributed to the present reservoir of knowledge in a simple, lucid way, with associated photographs and rich references.
Development Consultant (India)
“Nadarajah’s book offers deep insights worth engaging with at both personal and political levels.”
In recent times, the search for sustainability has become imperative for the survival of human beings and other species. Why? Nadarajah’s book offers deep insights worth engaging with at both personal and political levels, as he offers an orientation from the point of view of socially-engaged spirituality, staying away from the business-as-usual models of sustainable development.
It made me reflect. Homo sapiens have been blessed with everything in abundance in nature by the Creator to satisfy their diverse and legitimate needs. But being pleasure seekers, they have chosen the trajectory of destruction of nature’s biodiversity for their increasingly material only progress. From necessity to hedonism, from being to having, the progression was steady and then swift.
Man, with his technological armoury and growth-only economic orientation, savagely destroyed many little communities, their traditional cultures and pushed many animals to extinction, as Nadarajah so well explains, in relentless pleasure hunting and profit-making pursuits. Mother Earth, the goddess of patience, has been indulgently tolerant of man’s aggrandisement. But as man plunders her Being, with utter disregard for the disastrous consequences to the ecosystem, she had ‘no other option’ but to respond with a fury unseen, causing humongous loss to lives and livelihoods. This is poised to only increase in the coming years.
We have certainly messed up. And we are refusing to learn. The Climate Vulnerable Forum’s 2010 report warned: “In absolute terms, India will have the highest number of excessive deaths due to health impacts of climate change.” Our coastlines are going to change. Bangladesh and West Bengal are on the path of destruction as are many other coastal areas and islands around the world.
The protagonists of development present the theory of trade off between development and sustainability, which is totally unsound and unacceptable, as it is dishonest and manipulative. A striking example is the mining of bauxite for aluminium. The basic function of bauxite is conserving water and maintaining perennial streams in mountains. Social Anthropologist Felix Padel , who has been living in the tribal belt of Odisha for many years, observes: “Bauxite mines are in the mountains maintaining an ecological balance.” As mining means the destruction of mountains and depletion of bauxite, there are two serious damages: ecocide and cultural genocide (caused by displacement and disruption of livelihoods of tribal communities).
The predators of nature are, thus, compelled to re-examine the strategies of development dictated by capitalist profiteers, and their all powerful agencies and structures spearheading modernisation, globalization and mindless consumerism. We all need to rethink as individuals and as communities. And, as Nadarajah so aptly says there are no more cross-roads where we can make a choice. We have destroyed all meaningful cross-roads. We are all now at an abyss and we have to make an u-turn or take that bridge to genuinely sustainable futures, as our ancestors conceived them. The pasts had futures we carelessly neglected, marginalized or missed.
Nadarajah examines sustainability from a deep socially-engaged spiritual sense in the book, and has explored Asian cultures and traditions, where sustainability is embedded as a way of life. His meditations on sustainable cultures and cosmologies in Asia are not tautological, but they are presented with the power of facts and visual realities through his lens and from his pen. A great work on sustainability for those who believe in “simplicity, sanity, spirituality and sustainability.” It is worth recommending this book to serious youths and young academics to expose them to LIVING PATHWAYs to sustainable futures in Asia.
T.K. Nair, PhD.
Professor of Social Work, former Principal of Madras School of Social Work (MSSW). Author, Mentor, Human Rights Activist, Social Worker and an Active Gerontologist (India)
For more reviews, see the Living Pathways website.